Tag Archives: communications

Industry Disconnect: Cutting Edge vs. Reality

By Kevin White, CAPP, AICP

I fear there may be a disconnect developing between a lot of parking and mobility industry discourse around new, “cutting edge” technology and many municipalities and parking operations across the United States and beyond. It seems every time I turn around, there are new vendors and technologies and solutions flooding the parking and mobility market. The creativity and innovation are welcome; new ideas, people, and technologies are essential for continued industry growth and advancement. That said, it’s dizzying at times, and we professionals work to stay on top of all the developments.

New technologies, cameras, sensors, apps, “big data,” “integrated solutions,” curb management, micro-mobility, and other topics have been en vogue in our industry in recent years. We all love talking about and learning about what’s new, what’s cutting edge. These topics are essential, but I fear that industry discussion and solutions being proposed are aimed predominantly at the upper “1 percent” of cities and operators—large, dense, urban, and multi-modal cities or other large operators with dedicated staff, expertise, and resources.

Our dialogue and solutions presume a certain level of parking and mobility expertise, a certain level of resources and operational savvy to even be able to consider or understand the new ideas, new ways of managing curb space or parking and mobility systems, or the new latest and greatest technology.

I think we are failing to speak to the lion’s share of the municipalities and parking operators across this country: the medium and smaller communities that still need to manage parking and mobility systems but do not have dedicated staff, specific parking knowledge or training, or are constrained to complete fundamental management tasks, who may not collect parking and mobility data or even know what to collect or how to use it. These communities may also struggle with limited resources and staff time.

We need to do more as industry professionals to create a dialogue, a message, and a set of solutions that reaches the masses and addresses a range of issues with customized solutions.

Kevin White, CAPP, AICP, is a parking and mobility consultant with Walker Consultants.

IPMI Webinar: Using Social Listening to Improve Your Customer Service. Presented by Melonie Curry, ParkHouston

Using Social Listening to Improve Your Customer Service

Melonie Curry, Communications Manager, ParkHouston

Register here for this webinar.

Or purchase the entire 2021 professional development series bundle.

Digital marketing is now a required element of good business. Learn to use social listening to analyze your organization’s digital footprint and social media presence. Provide responsive and timely campaigns that meet the needs of your target audience and help your organization do business better.

Attendees will:

  • Recognize the need for digital marketing.
  • Learn how to use social media to identify customer needs.
  • Examine which digital media channels best connect you with your target audience.

Offers 1 CAPP Credit towards application or recertification.

Presenter: Melonie Curry, Communications Manager, ParkHouston

Melonie Curry has developed customer educational materials for ParkHouston that share parking tips to educate the public and make parking easy and convenient. She manages ParkHouston’s social media and website and recently completed a digital marketing certification from Cornell  University. She served on the Texas Parking and Transportation Association’s Host Committee and helps manage social media. She is a member of the Social Media Advisory and Research Taskforce (SMART) and works on the Cultural Change Coalition to improve department collaboration in the City of Houston.

Register here.





Your Next Hire? A Communications Pro

By Moira A. Bindner

What did communications look like before a dedicated communications professional was hired? Parking & transit posted on its website, had minimal response to Twitter comments, and created flyers. Outreach was limited to orientation presentations and commuter breakfasts, and the reputation of the department was primarily negative and definitely not warm and friendly. Further, the staff person working on parking communications issues was dedicated to these efforts only part-time; their primary responsibility was overseeing the parking permit office.

The director of parking & transit determined it was time to upgrade the position when this staff person had to move. The university campus was undergoing extensive renovations and construction was affecting mobility around campus, which increased the need to expand the communications role. The director needed a different skill set than existed within the department. Parking & transit services needed someone with a customer service oriented and outgoing personality to inform the campus about construction issues, assist on messaging for special events, and educate the community about parking rules and regulations.

The results have surpassed initial expectations. The new staff person created and nurtured relationships across the campus. They determined the major stakeholders affected by construction, parking, and events and then they asked those stakeholders to help relay messages. A monthly newsletter (650 subscribers), expanded Twitter following (660 to 2,800 followers), extensive trainings on parking realities of campus, and a new website provided the content. Now instead of everything coming from parking & transit services, we had retweets from student government, campus police, athletics, dining, the campus paper, and academic departments and programs. The multiplier effect worked and parking & transit started to be seen as a great source of information and a friendly phone call when planning an event.

The communications position has gained a reputation of being proactive, responsive, and able to respond with clear and concise answers, information pieces, and maps to assist our campus community.

Moira A. Bindner is communications and customer service manager, parking & transit services, at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. She will present on this topic at the 2019 IPMI Conference & Expo, June 9-12 in Anaheim, Calif. For more information and to register, click here.

You Talkin’ to Me?

By Cindy Campbell

Here’s an interesting statistic regarding the primary cause of conflict: 10 percent of conflicts are due to differences of opinion. 90 percent are due to using the wrong tone of voice.

Now, I can’t verify this statistic but I can tell you that it feels true. Like the adage, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it,” the tone of our voice can sometimes deliver a completely different message than what we intend. We inadvertently communicate an attitude of disinterest or even aggression through facial expression, body language, and tone of voice. Let’s be honest with ourselves: It isn’t always unintended when we choose to communicate this way.

You know the parental tone I’m talking about. If you’re like me, at some point in the past, you’ve made a point to school someone who challenged your authority, viewpoint, or policy. Let me ask you—how’s that workin’ for ya?

If our intent is to set someone straight when they disagree with us by adding a lecturing tone to what should be a professional message, it’s likely that the only point you’re getting across is that you’re not a very good representative of your agency or yourself for that matter.

We are more easily understood when we leave the condescending attitude and tone behind and simply choose to communicate with respect—even when the person we’re speaking with doesn’t show us that same level of respect. This approach is especially important when the person we’re talking with doesn’t appreciate the message itself.

Do yourself a favor by going out of your way to make sure your tone of voice doesn’t sabotage your good message.

Cindy Campbell is IPI’s senior training and development specialist.